Add another nail in the coffin to St. Louis family run businesses. Ahner’s, the nursery on Manchester Road in Des Peres, will be closing after 64 years in business.
As long as I can remember I have been getting my annuals, perennials, orchids, succulents, hanging baskets, pots and soil from Ahner’s. I knew that the first warm day in March I can go to Ahner’s, without calling ahead, and get my spring pansies. Soon, they’ll be closing the doors.
George and I visited Ahner’s Sunday for the last time. It was a busy day that caused us to wait 5 minutes for a spot in the parking lot.
The orchids were gone, most of the annuals were gone, but lots of hosta and succulents remained as well as many fall mums. All plants were 50% off. Many pots remained at 25% off- utilitarian terra cotta or gloriously colored glazed beauties. A few fountains were on sale and awaiting new homes.
The gift shop was doing a brisk business, and, even in the rain, customers were perusing the garden statuary (25% off) outside. I even spied a silver Christmas tree adorned with turquoise ornaments sharing the same room as the outdoor fountains.
Sure, most of the items available at Ahner’s could be purchased elsewhere. A basic terra cotta pot is the same at Home Depot, Wal Mart and Ahner’s. Ditto to a pot of begonias or a Mother-in-Law’s tongue. The difference is that money spent at Ahner’s stays in St. Louis and supports the owners. They might be your neighbors. Their kids might play softball with your kids. If you’re a regular, you get to know the sales staff there. Maury remembered you and, that alone, made shopping a pleasure.
George sighed recalling how Maury sparked his interest in orchids. Initially George was purchasing an orchid for a gift and Maury helped him pick a great one. Then, he got the bug. George faithfully attended Ahners orchid classes and the rest was history. George has dozens and dozens of orchids, all thanks to Maury and Ahners.
The mood among the sales staff on our visit was somber. I couldn’t help but sigh as I entered the store; the thrill of getting a great buy was diminished knowing that this would be the last time I visited.
The reason for the store going out of business is cited as decreased revenue for the past few years. The nursery you drive by because you love to see those petunias growing on the greenhouse roof won’t be there much longer.
Stop by soon and say goodbye to another St. Louis institution. I will continue to patronize all the other great nurseries in St. Louis. Wiethops, Greenscape Gardens, Sugar Creek, Stuckmeyers, Dausters, Thies Farms, Chesterfield Nursery, Sherwood Forest and so on.
Join me and keep your St. Louis dollars in St. Louis nurseries.